Shoulder Rest

February 26, 2012 at 07:25 AM · I have been searching for shoulder rests for a long time now, I have tried many and there are only a couple that I haven't. I noticed that I sound much better without one, and I've grown to get used playing without one. Recently, I went back to using one just for fun and realized how much more comfortable I was. Thing is, the sound is muted when I play with it. I have never used a wooden shoulder rest before, would my sound be better because it is wood and the vibrations can still somewhat continue? I was thinking about purchasing the Viva La Musica Diamond Model.

Replies (57)

February 26, 2012 at 12:01 PM · I honestly think it's impossible to make a judgement - I think you need to try it for yourself. Surely the rubber feet (on most rests?) would be the thing that affects vibration?

February 26, 2012 at 01:28 PM · I just got a Viva La Musica "professional" model shoulder rest (wooden, but not the Diamond) and the sound is improved from the Kuhn and Muco I have used previously. And, no, my violin does not sound better without a rest. And, yes, some people are more comfortable without a rest and their violins sound better without them. I fear a long protracted discussion here, as usual, about shoulder rests.

I think you have to test them out yourself and see what sounds best for your. I will say, the VLM rest is very beautiful, well-made, and elegant. I have the walnut which is understated, with black fittings. Of note, it's a little taller than the Kuhn and Muco, but not much.

February 26, 2012 at 02:28 PM · This is likely to generate the usual stream of high-tension replies; just a warning. Using or not using a shoulder rest is a personal choice. The jury isn't in on what & how much difference in instrument tone & volume using or not using a rest makes. If you are able to get to a store or teacher who has a collection you can try, that is much better than trying to guess what will feel right, and how it will affect your sound. Sue

** Full-disclosure announcement: I use rests. Several of the bar-style rests feel fine to me. I don't have the same chin & shoulder rest on each of my instruments. One of my violins sounds significantly different to me depending on which shoulder rest, the others nothing big.

February 26, 2012 at 04:17 PM · What is the difference in the professional VLM and the diamond VLM?

February 26, 2012 at 04:50 PM · The professional and the diamond are completely different shoulder rests, with very different adjusting mechanisms. The professional is much easier to use, it's more reminiscent of a regular kun rest, the diamond takes a while to find a comfortable adjustment and to get used to.

I use a viva diamond augustin... my violin sounds better with that on that with any other shoulder rest; it's the closest I've found (sound-wise) to playing without a shoulder rest - the difference in sound between playing rest-less and playing with the viva diamond is very small.

Also, the viva diamond is the lowest bar-type shoulder rest I've been able to find.

February 26, 2012 at 07:16 PM · "I have never used a wooden shoulder rest before, would my sound be better because it is wood and the vibrations can still somewhat continue?"

It's at least worth a comparison tryout. The Kun Bravo, in my tryouts, yielded more resonance than the Kun Regular Collapsible -- no doubt because of the wood. In fact, with the Bravo, I don't detect any reduction in sound volume or quality. If anything, there is a very slight increase.

BTW, I set my SR so that it's secure but not pinching. Looking at the back of the instrument, I orient the device from SW to NE. That fits me best. I also went to center-mounted rosewood chin rests about 6 years ago for my three instruments. For me, they definitely yield more tone than the former left-mounted ebony rests allowed.

February 26, 2012 at 07:47 PM · Parth Doshi : the sound is muted when I play with it.

Erica Thaler : my violin does not sound better without a rest.

Reading the posts above, I find it interesting that there is a different perception of sound from person to person. Just an observation, no need to read anything into it :)

February 26, 2012 at 08:27 PM · Brian, could you please detail on why the diamond is a more troublesome shoulder rest, I don't want to purchase it and have a problem.

Also, I would try them in a shop, but where I live, there is no violin shop.

February 27, 2012 at 01:08 AM · The end members rotate 360 degrees (along with the regular lateral and height adjustment that you find on most shoulder rests), increasing the number of possible ways the shoulder rest can be adjusted.. so it might take a longer time before you find the ideal position for this rest to fit your shoulder. It took me about three weeks, but for me the increase in sound quality (compared to my old kun bravo) was worth it.

February 27, 2012 at 01:16 AM · It's been said here before, but the Acoustifoam pads produce give a surprising amount of support-- without hindering vibrations or freedom of movement. I switched to that from a Kun and found it not much of an adjustment. If you're coming from no pad at all, this might be a comfortable option.

February 27, 2012 at 06:18 AM · Here is the thing, when I play, I get into the music like Maxim Vengerov. I feel the power of the violin, when I attach the kun collapsible, I don't feel that power and then I don't play as well. Will I get the same power out of the violin using the VLM diamond vs. no shoulder rest? If the difference is very small its ok, but for the kun collapsible, the difference is large so...

February 27, 2012 at 02:29 PM · Think you just have to experiment...and see what works for you with your violin, and bow, and set-up, and the alignment of the stars....

Violins are truly independent little creatures aren't they? Let us know what you discover!

(So glad that everyone is behaving so nicely on this topic so far!)

February 27, 2012 at 02:30 PM · You have to do what works best for you. There is no right or wrong answer to your question. If restless works best, go with it or use a pad.

February 27, 2012 at 03:14 PM · Maxim Vengerov uses a kun bravo and he seems to do just fine. The VLM diamond produces a significantly better sound than the kun does (the vlm seems to be carved out of a single piece of wood and then varnished, whereas the kun bravo seems to be made of several layers of wood laminated together). With the VLM, it's possible to find an adjustment which doesn't squeeze the instrument overly tightly, whereas this isn't always possible with the kun.

I've tried the viva rest on some of my friends' violins (which normally used both the plastic or wood kun rests, etc.) and it made a significant improvement on all of them.

If you can't deal with the reduction in your instrument's sound that comes with playing with a shoulder rest, then don't use one. I can personally barely tell the difference in my violin's sound under the ear when playing without a shoulder rest and when using the viva diamond; there is definitely a difference, but I feel that it isn't nearly enough to matter.

February 27, 2012 at 05:31 PM · Does anyone know what Simon Fischer uses for, or instead of a chin rest? I remember him recommending a combo of a Wolf Forte Secondo, plus a ???

Someone pointed to the subject of this combo by referencing one of his YouTube clips, but I can't find it anywhere. Thanks!

February 27, 2012 at 06:19 PM · Yes, there's a picture of him using the combo but all I can see is his shirt buttons :)

Thanks for the reply, I will look there .. but what has his height got to do with it?

February 27, 2012 at 06:25 PM · I'd recommend checking this site for a good explanation of what the goal is, for fitting a shoulder rest. The photo labeled "Violin on the collar bone: the skeletal structure contributes to the total sound produced by resonating with the instrument" is worth a thousand words.

Given the information from these research findings, I settled on the Wolf Forte Secondo. The choice was not because of how you can crank the height way up, but because the little "hook" engages the collarbone, so it's fast and easy to get in place, with full shoulder freedom and balanced spinal structure.

And on my fiddle, it makes virtually no difference in sound Your mileage WILL vary. Everyone's physiognomy is different.

February 27, 2012 at 06:48 PM · That's a good site. Thanks, John Pierce :)

February 29, 2012 at 04:46 AM · Vengerov does indeed use Kun.

I personally find playing without shoulder rests very tiring (I use Mach One). But in his book about left hand techniques, Ruggiero Ricci was talking about how good form should eliminate the use of shoulder rests (and even chin rests). The sound does resonate a bit better for me without shoulder rest.

Vengerov, however, told me that each violinist has a different chin and collarbone shape, so each person needs to find a perfect match. Some people just use sponges and rubber bands. Others don't use one at all.

What I do suggest is to get a shoulder rest that seems a little longer than what your neck can tolerate for long hours. I recently got a new mach one and when I replaced the legs (mach one has plastic legs that scare me witless), I found out that the sockets for the legs were shallower than the one I used previously, making the general height of the shoulder rest higher. To my dismay, it allowed me to play for longer duration without much fatigue.

February 29, 2012 at 05:06 AM · I have been on a shoulder rest hunt for a long time but I always end up back with a Wolf (primo for my violin, secondo on my viola). The can be raised a ton, and bent into almost any shape.

February 29, 2012 at 08:51 PM · I got my VLM Diamond and I simply LOVE it!!!! The sound is amazing, I never knew a shoulder rest could resonate sound like this. Thanks everyone for the help and my sincere regards go to Brian for the extra help.

March 1, 2012 at 04:51 AM · Yay! Mine is beautiful too. Nice product (I have the professional).

March 1, 2012 at 05:40 AM · Agreed on the Diamond, VLM...

March 1, 2012 at 12:43 PM · "Here is the thing, when I play, I get into the music like Maxim Vengerov."

Maxim uses a shoulder rest, and it looked like just the usual one to me. He got the same big sound out of a student's fiddle and that probably had a different SR!!


Regarding the site John P linked to - it seems obvious to me anyway that sponges and pads that take up 20% + of the violin back MUST be damping the sound A LOT!

March 1, 2012 at 12:58 PM · Momoko

I'm not sure I would agree about rosin - if it does have an effect it would be so minimal as not to count.

PS Your previous post Momoko seems to have disappeared!!!

Sorry, it was on the projection thread.

March 1, 2012 at 02:16 PM · Peter said:

Regarding the site John P linked to - it seems obvious to me anyway that sponges and pads that take up 20% + of the violin back MUST be damping the sound A LOT!

No argument! However -- sponges and pads are a quick, cheap, and dirty way to check out measurements, on the way to finding the right permanent kit. The final solution should have a minimum of damping, and contact should be at acoustic nodes.

Think of sponges and pads as mock-ups or moulds, to be used to craft an end product.

Although some people will stop at the first thing that works. I once saw someone use a monkey wrench as a clamp to glue a crack in the music rest on a beautiful cherry piano. It still hurts to remember that one.

March 1, 2012 at 02:28 PM · To those with a VLM diamond. How tall does the rest go?

March 1, 2012 at 08:25 PM · It is doesn't go extreme like the Wolf Forte Secondo, but a good amount. It depends on how tall your neck is, mine is quite long, and the rest suits me so...

March 2, 2012 at 03:05 AM · One thing you want to be careful of is that the shoulder rest does not raise the violin up off your collar bone such that you are reaching higher with your bow arm and over further with your left arm and hand to reach the strings. This can also happen if the violin is placed too far over onto the shoulder itself. This is why it is often recommended that you raise the chin rest to fill the gap between collar bone and jaw to keep the violin low on its collar bone shelf so you do not have to raise your arms up and over and risk injury.

March 2, 2012 at 03:14 AM · I just ordered the diamond for my violin, and viola. I found a site where it was not only cheaper then the professional model, but also cheaper then if I got it whole sale (It must a type-o, but I'm trying it). I can always resell it if it doesn't work out.

March 2, 2012 at 05:01 AM · What site is this? A few of my friends (and even my teacher) are interested in this shoulder rest.

March 3, 2012 at 03:30 AM · Has anyone tried the phantom shoulder rest?Attaches to the chin rest so supposedly interferes with the sound less. The description sounds so wonderful that I am skeptical!

March 3, 2012 at 07:17 PM · Ellie, I tried the phantom shoulder rest, DONT BUY IT. It's bad company and the shoulder rest doesn't work as they say. It's uncomfortable, doesn't sit right nor attach right. I'm telling you, plus they say you can ship it back, but it's way more expensive than what you pay for them to ship it to you. The sound is not really improved either.If I were to recommend a shoulder rest now, it would definitely be the VLM Diamond; terrific design, very light, it makes my violin sound better than it does without any shoulder rest, and very adjustable.

March 3, 2012 at 08:31 PM · @ Parth, thanks but damn :-((, had a feeling though.

March 3, 2012 at 08:34 PM ·

March 4, 2012 at 12:39 AM · I suppose the best shoulder rest is the one that no one talks about ...

I knew a giraffe once who played beautifully without one ...

Is it not time to give all of this a rest??

I enjoy having a rest in a bar, especially if the beer is good ...

You could get barred for talking about this topic ...

I wonder if I can pad this post out with more rubbish??

You could say you need a thick skin and a short kneck to do without ...

I'm going to bed for a rest now ... before I get arrested ...

March 4, 2012 at 12:52 PM · Peter, can I have my 17 shoulder rests back, please? :) :)

Well, at least this one stayed on track.

March 6, 2012 at 12:21 AM · Of course, it is not for everybody, but the VLM Augustin Diamond is the best shoulder rest I've ever had-it just feels as if you didn't have it, while also being super comfortable and secure.

-no slipping (either from the violin, nor from your shoulder, which can be annoying on other shoulder rests)

-as said above, super light. Almost like a feather. Again, as if the violin had nothing on.

-in my experience, allows better adjustment than the Kun Bravo (I had to retire my Kun Bravo today, because the foam was too worn and the wood was starting to hurt my shoulder, seeing as I was wearing it more forward than over the shoulder). (My Wolf Forte Secondo is still good, but I am holding the violin differently now, and feel that I can no longer take advantage of its unique features-I.E. it gets too much in the way, unlike with the VLM Diamond.)

-I am not sold on the sound thing, but it does give the impression of helping the tone somehow (part of me is very skeptic about that, though.) Perhaps it just doesn't impede the tone (or not as much) as a few other shoulder rests do.

-Perhaps the most beautiful, or among the most beautiful shoulder rests, at least that I know of. I have the dark maple one because it better matches my violin's varnish.

-It does not go as high as the Wolf Forte Secondo; however, I would think that the Wolf' extra high features are rarely maxed by most individuals anyway. IMHO, it's just another style of chinrest altogether, more akin to the Kun, but (again IMHO) an "improved" design in many vital ways.

-Unlike the Kun (and even the VLM Professional) the legs don't angle to the side in an angle, vertically; however, unlike the with the Kun and other shoulder rests, thay can be flexibly moved around horizontally in a round axis (although I don't need the feature myself-save for storing the SR-this horizontal axis is one of their add's selling points, when they claim it's revolutionary. It is a nice feature, incredibly convenient, but not what makes or breaks it for me.) I don't feel the SR suffers from lacking that common feature, because it's comfortable in other ways that the other models usually aren't (for me, that is.)

In summary, it's just the most comfortable SR I've ever used, bar none. When I used to hold the violin more over the shoulder, the Wolf Forte Secondo was excellent and quite comfortable. The VLM Diamond is MUCH less obvious, and it's just SO MUCH easier to set it "right", and by that I mean that it easily allows you set it so that the violin has a nice and constant contact with your collarbone. As I said, it is there but it's almost as if it wasn't, in a very unobtrusive way. It almost "eliminates" the supposed "negatives" of playing with a shoulder rest (at least, for me it does.) I realize many reach these goals with the more popular chinrests (such as with the original Kun), but I always had difficulty finding the right fit, which usually forced me to play too much over the shoulder. I have paired my new, gorgeous SR with a low Teka chinrest, that is also the most comfortable chinrest I've ever used, especially after I changed my violin position forward, and much less over the shoulder. Indeed, after mixing the low Teka I had a couple days back with my new VLM Diamond, today has been the most comfortable day I've ever had playing the violin (granted, I would try it first, because everybody is different, and it might not suit somebody out there at all.)

(I respect rest-less players, BTW. I could play restless, but it currently presents quite a challenge. I mean no offense to all the great shoulder rest-less players, and am very happy for them for being able to master the instrument without this tool.)

March 6, 2012 at 12:32 AM · @Brian Lee I totally concur with you-it almost feels as if you were playing restless, but with the "benefits" of a shoudler rest. Amazing little SR, tihs Diamond. Unlike in your case, I did find an almost immediate fit which took just a bit of fiddling around with the height screws, based on the position I was already using with my Kun Bravo (which was all worn out, and pretty much uncomfortable.) For me, besides the looks, what I love is that it almost "feels invisible". and doesn't get in your way like many other rests.

March 6, 2012 at 01:21 AM · Greetings,

I agree with you about the Diamond. I don`t believe in or use shoulder rests. But of all that I have ever tried, that one is the lest intrusive, sensible and efficient by a long way as far as I am cocnerned.

Expensive too;)



March 6, 2012 at 01:23 AM · And the sound is better IMO with the Diamond. It is absolutely the best rest I have tried.

March 7, 2012 at 02:53 AM · The website I was talking about is Potter's Violins. the violin VLM Diamond was just over $40, and the viola was around $50. I got it on Monday, and it is the best rest I have used. I have changed the way I think about the rest, and am more focus on the violin resting on my collar bon/raising the chinrest instead of having a super tall shoulder rest.

March 7, 2012 at 07:30 AM · ^ Whoah, that's a big boo-boo on their part! Both the Professional and the Diamond models are $43.71! Their prices (IME) are rarely the lowests around. The Professional, for instance, can be bought elsewhere for slightly less.

Here are the links for both models (light or dark), in case somebody else can benefit. I would myself buy a backup if I had the money to spare (not that it should break easily):

As I was practicing Yesterday, things were so comfortable and "easy" to do it really felt as a huge jump forward. Editing what I typed the other day, I found many useful ways of experimenting with the horizontal swiveling legs, and am currently using an even more comfortable setup, if that was possible. Never have I had an "easier" time with the violin before-it is a very successful design, in my estimation (I was very skeptic about it at first, as well as with its price-mine was $64.50 plus tax-, but IMHO, it is indeed a "better value" than the Kun Bravo-of course, given that it works for you.)

(Off-topic, I shall always remember both Potters violins and the Violin House of Weaver because I purchased my violin from both of them during early 2001, when I was visiting a dear friend at the University of Maryland.)

March 7, 2012 at 12:43 PM · When I got my rests in from Potters, the violin one had a sticker on it saying $62, and the Viola $70.... That is a bit of a mistake. Check out their Light viola one. Once you go to it, it has a drop down menu, that adds 7.50 when you click on viola. I don't think their site is set up correctly.

March 7, 2012 at 03:59 PM · I've always been a fan of the cheapest model there is-- the Resonans shoulder pad. It has no adjusters on it, so you'll need to bend it into the size you need, but once you've got it shaped correctly, it should stay in the same shape for the rest of its life. It has rubber feet and leaves the maximum possible empty air space between the violin and your shoulder, allowing the wood to resonate at its maximum potential.

Why am I a fan of it? No-maintenance after the initial adjusting (although getting it adjusted in the first place is a challenge), it's durable, it's easy to put on and take off, it doesn't muffle the violin or look tacky, and I personally find it surprisingly more comfortable than all the curved shoulder pads I've tried. Plus, it fits in your case pretty nicely if you've got the kind with extra space around the neck.

They come in different heights, and I'd definitely recommend sizing them before buying. When I bought one for my electric model, I had to go with the highest one they make since my model is so thin.

March 7, 2012 at 04:29 PM · I've heard some complaints about the Resonans feet scratching instruments, but one of my teachers told me about a friend of his who solved this by having a durable silicon mold formed around the feet, which apparently also helped the resonance of the instrument a little bit (as opposed to an unmodified Resonans).

March 7, 2012 at 11:54 PM · The brace does have a bit of metal exposed just like most shoulder pads do. If you've adjusted it correctly, that shouldn't be an issue. I've been using the living daylights out of a single Resonans since 1999 on what was then a new instrument, and it has no scratches from it.

October 2, 2012 at 07:39 PM · I ordered this rest and received it today. I must say the packaging and the pouch bag is very nice, and the construction of the rest is very solid. Now, I've read all the information about it not damaging the button, but the rest (at least on my violin) doesn't fit effortlessly in the button, you need to use a slight amount of pressure. The rubber/padding present in that part of the rest prevents any damage but I couldn't stop thinking it would suddenly remove the end button from its place (specially the first attempt putting the rest on, where it kind of made a torque "pulling" force in that area).

Now to the fitting. As previously mentioned you CANNOT rest the violin on your collarbone with this shoulder rest so the first impression was a very odd feeling of something between me and the violin (the violin also stays a little bit higher which for me is unacceptable).

It bends fairly easily, much bendable than the wolf rests (very nice material wolf could use in their future products).

My conclusion, this is a rest that FORCES you to a good violin position which is good (the shoulder rest rests on the collarbone and it's located at the very edge of the bottom of the violin; it's like an extension of your collarbone), but if you already have a good position, resting your violin on your collarbone, then you'll find this rest very uncomfortable, unless having it a little bit higher and loosing the feeling of the violin touching your collarbone is something that doesn't matter to you. Another thing is that I couldn't move much with this rest, you get a rock solid stability, a free left arm (specially E string ultra high positions) but the violin is very hard to move, it's almost glued to its position (which is a problem in ultra high G string positions)

Now, so you get an idea of the reviewer's preferences, my ideal rest right now for a 4/4 violin is a Wolf Forte secondo VIOLA rest (it has 2 moveable ends!! and the rest is THE SAME SIZE AS THE VIOLIN ONE) with the padding foam removed and slightly bent, just a bit.

Rests I have tried:

Kun Super, Wolf Secondo Standard, Wolf Forte Secondo 4/4, Kun Voce (nice but the lowest setting is incredibly high on the chinrest end), Conford shoulder cradle gold (Excellent rest if you tend to put the violin more in front of you, highly recommended), Gewa-like pad, a piece of foam, completely restless but with a Flat Flesch chinrest (nice but Flesch rest puts the violin extremely high on the shoulder which made G string very uncomfortable and I couldn't make fast passages easily with it). Now I use a guarneri with thick corks, and restless is very uncomfortable with it.

I think by far Wolf is the most customisable one; you shouldn't expect to find the ideal rest that best suits your body, you should modify it so it's the ideal one, and wolf lets you do that. If you worry about the long screws of the legs, you can cut them with a saw that cuts metal(I had to since they were pressing and hurting my shoulder and chest). Also if the metal part of the leg is hurting you violin, you can also cut it with a saw and leave just what's needed for your violin size/setup.

Also, you cant find a proper shoulder rest if you don't know what a proper violin position is. And I think that's something you get by placing it on your collarbone and finding a comfortable balance there. You can try 1hr of restless playing a day, or using foam for a while, until you learn the best place for the violin. This is something I think you CANT skip. If it weren't for the loss of volume I would stick to the pieces of foam which I think are the most comfortable thing to play with, and my wolf setup is almost identical; but it took a long time of research and trial and error.

Still trying to find the VLM Diamond just to see if it tops the Wolf, it looks flatter than the KUN am I correct?

Well those are my 2 cents!.


October 3, 2012 at 02:18 AM · Raul it is flatter. Go to Viva la Musica's website. You will find it there. You will also be shocked at its performance!

Happy Practicing!

January 19, 2013 at 12:22 AM · If you are interested in playing without a shoulder rest, here are some live demonstrations and helpful exercises. Let me know what you think!

How to Play the Violin without a Shoulder Rest

March 13, 2013 at 08:50 AM · And one more...

Cheers Carlo

March 14, 2013 at 09:03 AM · John, I can live with that description. I was stirring, but you did take the bait. Please accept my apology and don't throw one white glove on the floor in front of me. Otherwise we will have to stand back to back, walk ten paces, and throw SRs at each other...

Cheers Carlo

March 15, 2013 at 12:51 AM · John, That is very kind, but with those funny collars that I have to wear with that title, I may have to look for some kind of SR.

Smiley, all is not over. This one is still running.

Cheers Carlo

March 15, 2013 at 02:19 AM · Yay!!!! The previous thread maxed out just a few hours ago and I was already suffering from SR withdrawal. I feel much better now that I can get my fix.

March 15, 2013 at 10:14 AM · Another friendly SR thead, destined to score a century (a cricketing term!).

But where is the obstinacy and arrogance, and the "God and Heifetz never used SRs" (do we know that?) syndrome?

Come on, this is pleasant but not exactly fun!!

March 15, 2013 at 10:56 AM · Now don't get me started on cricket. Tomorrow I will go and watch my son play cricket for his school team. Saturdays are for lie-ins not for early rising. Three hours of my life I will never get back...

I just read that paragraph and I sound like the world's worst Dad. I'll go and play some fingered 8ves, on an 18" viola (with a SR), as punishment.

Cheers Carlo

March 15, 2013 at 11:54 AM · "I just read that paragraph and I sound like the world's worst Dad. I'll go and play some fingered 8ves, on an 18" viola (with a SR), as punishment."


Not the SR!!!!!!

No one deserves that kind of punishment.

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